Compulsive Overeater

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Book Review – Compulsive Overeater

November 7, 2020

In keeping with the Twelfth Tradition of the Twelve Step Programs, Compulsive Overeater: The Basic Text for Compulsive Overeaters, is published anonymously so as to protect ‘Bill B.’s’ anonymity.



Having read and studied many ‘basic texts’ of several Twelve Step Programs, I really liked the simplicity of Bill’s writing style. He laid out how he used the ‘big book’ of Alcoholics Anonymous to deal with and overcome his compulsive overeating and managed to melt off seventy-five pounds and keep it off for over a decade by the time he wrote this book in 1981.

One of the most profound statements Bill wrote was, “the problem is emotional, the symptom is physical, and the solution is spiritual…” I believe that this applies to any and all addictions.

Bill shared one suggestion that he heard from his sponsor. Bill’s sponsor asked him, “Why do you eat everything on your plate? Leave one string bean.”… (his) sponsor said, “Leave one string bean. Whether you think it’s stupid or not, do it.”

He goes on to say, ‘Okay – so I left one string bean. Let me tell you, that was the hardest thing in the world to do. I had never left anything on my plate before. I mean, I thought I just couldn’t leave one string bean. But I did it – I left one string bean. The next day my sponsor asked me what I was having for dinner. I said, “I don’t know – meat, salad, vegetables.” He said, “Leave one piece of vegetable and leave a little piece of meat today.”

He also talks about how most people with addictions lie to themselves with the mantra, “I’ll be happy when….” His premise is that as one follows the Twelve Steps as laid out, one will become happy and the addiction (overeating, drinking, drugs, gambling, or sex) will fall away.

One of his suggestions on ways to get happy was to write out a list of one hundred, or so, things that normal, active, healthy people do and then pick six or so activities and try them. Not just once or twice, or even three times, but until you enjoy it.

The final sentence in the book says it all, ‘Thin is not necessarily well. But if you are well, you will be thin.’

I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling to get rid of excess weight or with any other addictive, compulsive behaviour that they want to change.


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